October 4, 2022

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Advocates ask City, County to recertify STAR Voting initiative after court ruling on signatures

2 min read

The Equal Vote Coalition is reaching out to elected representatives to call for injustices regarding the STAR Voting for Eugene and Lane County ballot initiatives to be remedied by them directly.

A recent Oregon court ruling has reignited the case for why the STAR voting for Eugene initiative should have been on the ballot in 2020. The petition originally failed to qualify by only 111 signatures. Among the rejected signers were 255 registered Eugene voters who were marked as “Inactive” and were rejected for this reason alone.

Purging inactive voters from ballot initiatives and voter roles is a classic example of voter disenfranchisement which was banned in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and which has now been reaffirmed to be illegal in a recent Oregon ruling. On Dec 31st, 2020, an Oregon Court of Appeals opinion, Whitehead  v. Clarno, ruled that “inactive registered  voters  can validly sign initiative petitions.”

“The [Lane] County Clerk disqualified from the 20 percent sample of STAR Voting signatures a total of 51 inactive registered voters. Considering them valid would increase the overall count by 255, more than enough–by itself–to make up the supposed shortfall,” writes Dan Meek, lawyer for the Equal Vote Coalition. Meek has filed a new legal appeal on these grounds.

Concurrently, Equal Vote and the STAR Voting Eugene campaign are asking Eugene City Council and the Lane County Commissioners to take action: to request that Lane County Elections revisit the rejected “inactive” signers and recertify the petition, and if not, to place the initiative on the ballot themselves immediately.

The Equal Vote Coalition is also reaching out to Lane County Commissioners about the STAR Voting for Lane County ballot initiative, which was six months into the two year canvassing window  when  the  Covid-19  pandemic  hit.  “In only 6 months, our volunteers had already collected almost 7,000 of the 14,174 verified signatures needed, but on March 1st, 2020 we made the hard call to suspend canvassing. We reached out to Lane Elections and the Secretary of State to notify them that for safety reasons we had made this difficult call and to request alternative canvassing options and an extension to make up for this lost time but were not given any options,” said Sara Wolk, STAR Voting for Lane County campaign manager.

We are asking the Lane County Commissioners to grant us an extension to make up for the lost time, or to refer the STAR Voting for Lane County initiative to the ballot themselves.

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